5 min read

What are Canvas and Model-Driven Apps?

What are Canvas and Model-Driven Apps?
What are Canvas and Model-Driven Apps?

Low-code development platforms allow developers and non-developers to build applications using a graphical user interface rather than traditional “coding”. In the low-code model, complex coding is removed delivering high-powered apps at a lower cost and reduced timeline. Within Microsoft’s low-code development platform, Power Apps, there are two app building methods available, Canvas apps and Model-Driven apps (MDAs).

Think of Microsoft’s Power Platform as an app store housing many applications that deliver unique features and functions to end users. Some apps deliver simple features, while others provide solutions for more complex processes. One of the main benefits of Microsoft’s Power Platform comes from the variety of apps being shared within the Microsoft community so they can be leveraged independently or in combination with other use cases.

More about Canvas Apps

In general, Canvas apps are a type of Power App. They are designed to accomplish basic functions. The drag-and-drop build interface offers UI design flexibility, while also giving Power App creators the ability to connect to Microsoft data sources as well alternative data sources.

A few examples of apps that can be built within Canvas include:

• Checklists
• Estimates
• Events
• Stock/Inventory

As you can see from the list above, Canvas apps are action-oriented and can be used to automate simple tasks. They can stand-alone, or be a part of a larger, more complex app, like a MDA.

What are Model-Driven Apps?

Dynamics 365 Sales, Service, Field Service, and Marketing are examples of Model-Driven Apps (MDAs). The ability to create apps that mirror complex business processes, like Dynamics 365, within a low-code framework is accomplished using a templated approach to workflows, features, and settings. The MDA framework also helps organizations consolidate multiple data sources into a single source of truth within Microsoft’s Dataverse.

Here are some use cases that are best addressed with MDAs:

• Employee Onboarding
• Expense Approvals
• Services Requests
Crisis Management

Low-Code Platform Benefits

If you’re reading this blog, you might be considering Microsoft Power Apps to address a specific business need. Maybe you’re looking to replace a legacy system or upgrade an internal process that is currently managed using spreadsheets or both!

Here are three key takeaways about using Canvas and Model-Driven apps to support you within that process.

  1. You do not need to license the full Microsoft Dynamics 365 suite to leverage the benefits of using Microsoft’s low-code development platform, including Canvas Apps and/or Model-Driven Apps.
  2. You do not need to be a developer or a Power User to create a Power App. Partners like TrellisPoint can help your organization design and build what you need.
  3. You don’t need to spend a lot of money or a lot of time developing a custom app from scratch. Many industry-leading apps have been created using Microsoft’s Power Platform.

If you’d like to learn more about Microsoft Power Apps, feel free to read the additional articles we’ve linked below. If you have specific questions you’d like answered about your project, contact us today!

Canvas and Model Driven Apps FAQ

  1. How can I assess whether my organization’s current business challenges and processes are better suited for Canvas apps or Model-Driven apps within the Microsoft Power Platform?

    1. Canvas Apps:

      • Start with the user interface and allow the user to design the app as per their need.
      • Can connect to various data sources, including the Common Data Service (CDS).
      • Are similar to creating forms in InfoPath.
      • Can be embedded in Power Apps portals, which are websites that can surface apps as web pages.
      • Offer a graphical, intuitive interface.
      • Provide the ability to create a tailor-made UI based on user requirements.
      • Allow integration spanning multiple systems by using connectors.
    2. Model-Driven Apps:

      • Start with the data model and logic and generate the user interface automatically.
      • Are based on data that is stored in the CDS.
      • Are similar to creating entities and views in Dynamics 365.
      • Can be accessed through the Power Apps app or the Dynamics 365 app.
      • Are good for scenarios where the business logic is complex, such as sophisticated data models, business process management, and tracking activities associated with data.
      • Enable you to make your app quickly because they don’t require you to build out the UI yourself.

    If you’re looking for pixel-perfect control and a customized user experience, go with Canvas apps. If your business logic is complex and you want a consistent look and feel across screens without much effort from the app creator, consider Model-Driven apps. Remember, there’s no right or wrong in using either of these apps; it depends on your organization’s specific needs and challenges.

What are the initial steps and considerations for an organization with limited technical expertise to start developing with Microsoft Power Apps, and how can partners like TrellisPoint facilitate this journey?

Starting with Microsoft Power Apps can be a straightforward process, even for organizations with limited technical expertise. Here are some initial steps and considerations:

  • Introduction to Power Apps: Understand the capabilities of the Power Apps platform.
  • Navigating the Interface: Familiarize yourself with the Power Apps interface.
  • Connecting to Data Sources: Learn how to connect your app to various data sources.
  • Designing and Publishing Your First App: Start by designing and publishing a simple app.
  • Customizing the Design: Customize the aesthetics of your Power Apps project.
  • Table Editing and App Development: Learn effective methods for table editing and app development.
  • Collaboration: Enhance collaboration by integrating Power Apps with Microsoft Teams.

As for how partners like TrellisPoint can facilitate this journey, we offer several services:

  • Democratizing App Building: TrellisPoint can help you democratize the business-app-building experience by enabling your users to create feature-rich, custom business apps without writing code.
  • Advanced Development Requirements: TrellisPoint can provide more advanced development requirements to interact with your data and metadata, apply business logic, create custom connectors, and integrate with external data.
  • Data-Powered: TrellisPoint can help you connect with data sources such as Dataverse, SharePoint, D365, or SQL.
  • Economical: TrellisPoint can help you optimize your workflow with a single, scalable, and cost-effective platform that meets your business needs.

How does the process of collaboration and iteration work when developing apps with Microsoft Power Apps, especially for teams with a mix of technical and non-technical members, and what tools or features does Power Apps offer to support this collaboration?

Microsoft Power Apps offers several features to support collaboration and iteration, especially for teams with a mix of technical and non-technical members:

  • Fusion Teams: Power Apps enables the creation of fusion teams, which unite business technologists, professional developers, and IT departments into a joint venture that can deliver production-ready digital products.

  • Collaboration Features: Power Apps provides collaboration features that help teams work together to build model-driven apps. These include commenting features for asynchronous work and co-presence and co-authoring features for real-time collaboration.

  • Microsoft 365 Collaboration: Power Apps allows you to bring Microsoft 365 collaboration to your model-driven apps. This includes creating and managing tasks backed by Planner, scheduling meetings backed by Outlook and Teams calendars, storing files in SharePoint, and requesting approvals from others in your team.

  • Multiplayer Apps: When working on a record, you can see other users who are also working on the same record. This feature uses the Azure Fluid Relay service.

  • Share Button: Power Apps provides a Share button that allows you to easily share records with your colleagues.

  • Collaborative Workloads: Power Apps ensures app experiences are familiar, allows users to collaborate with team members in their apps, and work with data from their apps in their existing tools like Microsoft Teams.

These features and tools facilitate the process of collaboration and iteration in app development, making it easier for teams with diverse skill sets to work together effectively. Remember, successful collaboration in Power Apps involves defining and adopting co-development best practices that promote collaboration, accelerate scalable development, reduce organizational silos, and optimize application delivery.

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